Mixed martial arts is one of the fastest growing combat sports in the world and in the Cayman Islands many would love to emulate their heroes in the Ultimate Fighting Championship.
That could happen soon, thanks to karate instructor Bob Daigle, who recently brought over two MMA pros from Las Vegas for seminars, Danny Davis Jr and Derek Weaver. The seminars at the D. Dalmain Ebanks boxing gym attracted an international crowd, including a team of six from Cayman Brac, plus fighters from the Bahamas, Jamaica and Honduras.
Justin French led the Brac team, having been one of Daigle’s students during the 14 years he ran his karate school. There was a grappling contest after the seminars and one of the Brac team, first-timer Frank Elwin, won a bronze despite his inexperience.
“I think that the seminars and grappling contest was fantastic and was a great success not only for Grand Cayman but for us from the Brac,” French said.
“I was the only one going with any kind of training or experience in martial arts but that didn’t stop Frank taking home a bronze and just knowing that he has never had training or experience with martial arts except for horsing around with his two sons in his garage is in itself absolutely awesome.
“Thanks to our sponsors Cayman Airways, West End Texaco, Coconut Car Rentals, Sunrise Realty, Jr’s Lawn Care and Berry’s Golden Jerk and an anonymous sponsor who provided accommodations without them it wouldn’t have been all this was possible.
“The team and I really enjoyed ourselves during the seminar learning from Davis Jr. and Weaver. The guys were able to learn some of the techniques that they have been watching fighters during UFC matches and made their hunger for more increase rapidly.
“We will definitely come back for more and we’ll be ready to take home more then just a bronze next time. We are also working on hosting some seminars and contests in Cayman Brac in the future where fighters from Grand Cayman and elsewhere can come to us.
“In fact, on 4 August we will be hosting our first ever kickboxing and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu seminar with Bob who is a former world heavyweight karate champion. We invite anyone from the age of 13 upwards to come and participate. The cost will be $15 for one seminar or $20 for both. They can look for more information coming soon.”
From last month’s events, the overseas students have joined forces with Daigle to create a Caribbean and Central America mixed martial arts association and details can be received from [email protected] His kickboxing academy at UCCI and the gym at Camana Bay is doing well too.
The next FAST seminar is on Tuesday 31 July from 6-8pm at Body Now 4 Moms and Kids at 7 Mile shops on West Bay Road, cost $99 per person.
French is fully supportive of a regional organisation. “With the speed MMA is growing I think it is wonderful that an association is forming for the Caribbean.
“Not only will it benefit fighters and organisations but it will benefit every Caribbean country who is involved by increasing their tourism. The association can count on the Brac to be a part of it for sure.
“The rate and level of MMA growth in the past few years in the Caribbean is sky rocketing and if it isn’t at the level with major countries the United States, Brazil, and so on then it will be soon.
“Interest doesn’t seem to be the word to fit the definition for how popular MMA has become in the Caribbean, there seems to be a great hunger that supersedes the interest now.
“Bob and I have known each other for 10-15 years where as a teenager I took part in his karate school and from there I went on to the US where I continued training.
“I ran into Bob a few years ago and struck up our relationship again where we have talked and met several times about getting a kickboxing academy programme started.
“He spoke of starting one in Grand Cayman and I told him Brac wanted one too. I’m glad to say that we are very close to opening an academy for the Brac.
“We are waiting on a few things such as a proper place to facilitate our programme and equipment. Meanwhile, we have already started our Cayman Brac MMA programme to represent the Brac during seminars and competitions like the one in George Town last month.”